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Archive for February, 2011

Today Georgetown lost to Syracuse just the way anyone who had watched Chris Wright play for us for four years would fear:  our offense looked disjointed and out of sync and Syracuse won primarily because they caused so many turnovers which led to many easy baskets.   I listened to this game on the radio so it’s hard to speak clearly about the game’s action, but I do know that we had two chances under two minutes to get the ball and cut into a Syracuse three point lead.

On one occasion, if we had secured a rebound we would have had a chance.  Syracuse rebounded though and we had to foul, but then they missed the front end of the 1-and1. We had the ball and even though Austin Freeman made a nice pass to an open Jason Clark who unbelievably enough had his shot blocked, the offense seemed out of sorts.

There was not a clear plan of execution on offense as we all feared and without an outstanding game from any one Hoya, we fell short against a Syracuse team that had its full arsenal of players.

Its a sucky way for the Hoya seniors to end their home play at Georgetown, a really sucky way.

There is still time for this season to be a memorable one and Starks showed that the future may be bright for us at the point guard position.  But he is the only real point guard on the roster.  He has a week to plan for Cincinnati and for the Hoyas to avenge their loss from earlier this week.  A victory could boost his confidence and the rest of team’s heading into the Big East tournament.

So, I will continue to hope for the improbable, but accept what could be the inevitable, another disappointing fizzle to yet another Hoya season that at one point seemed to show so much promise.

Double vision: To describe the action to last night Caps’ game would give their effort too much credit.  Ovie seemed ready to play and that was it.  It is amazing that for all the inspiring victories we have had this season including our 3 victories against Pittsburgh, our 3 wins against Tampa and our home victory against Philly, we have had almost as many really awful games including two against the Rangers, one against Tampa, one against New Jersey and two against Boston.  That’s 7 great wins compared to 6 really, REALLY ugly losses.

Last night was definitely unsightly.  The good thing is that we play again tonight and try to get the nauseous taste out of our mouths.

Triple vision: Stupid me that I expected the Caps to win and the Wizards to get blown out.  So I only watched the 4th quarter of the Wiz and watched the Caps on DVR.  After two putrid games against less than average teams, the Wiz showed up big time against Miami and almost pulled out a game they had no business winning.  At the end of the day, it’s yet another loss in season full of them.

Tonight should be interesting to watch how the new players play at home.  I hope that Crawford gets some serious playing time on this team as we could use a real 3-man on this  team.

You begin to wonder how long can Flip last since we are likely to win less games than last year.  Will he stay next year to work hard to try to win 30 games or are the playoffs a possibility?  Even Grunfeld said on the radio yesterday that the playoffs are “2-3 years away”.

2-3 years?  Who says that on the radio?  What fan is going to buy tickets for next year if next year is definitely not a playoff year?  Is he saying that even if we land a couple of good free agents because the new salary cap that will be in place once a new CBA is established for the N.B.A forces some of the league’s big spenders to dump some good players, we still don’t have  as shot at the playoffs?  If that’s the case, then things are much, much worse than I thought.

Tough 24 hours for D.C. fans.

 

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There are so many strands running through the old duder’s head that I had to wait 24 hours to write something.

1st of all, I guess Georgetown is truly the 2nd basketball team around here.  While I have been mourning what appears to be a season lost due to Chris Wright’s broken finger in his left hand, everyone on sports talk radio is talking about how Gary Williams is underachieving and about how lousy the Maryland student body is because they did not fill up the arena to see the Terps pick up an important win against Florida State. Maryland may or not make the tournament this year, but one thing is for sure, they are not going to make the Sweet 16 in the NCAA.

Georgetown on the other hand, before last night, had a decent shot to make the Final Four.  That may seem crazy to say about a team that looked putrid last night in losing to Cincinnati.  In truth, I feared a let-down as the Hoyas knew they are tournament bound while Cincinnati knew that beating us would ensure that they would make the tournament.  Fait Accompli.  Even before Wright went out, it looked like we were going to lose.

Today, I was slightly relieved to hear that Georgetown expects him back before “the end of the season”.  I guess that means the NCAA tournament which starts 3 weeks from today.  But to be honest, Georgetown, which if the tournament started today would probably get a #3 seed, will probably lose at least one of its next two games.  That would then probably give us a single bye and at most, without Wright, I can’t see us winning more than one game in Big East tournament which will probably drop us eventually to  a #5 or #6 seed.  All of a sudden, not so hot, but not totally lost if Wright can indeed come back.

Of course, the X factor is Austin Freeman.  While he is probably the 2nd best player in the conference and our team’s best scorer, he is not the head of our Voltron;  Wright is.  Freeman is that awesome sword that Voltron had.  The question is though, with Jason Clark sharing time at the point with Starks, can Freeman elevate his game so that Georgetown still rises to the top of the conference.  If we win the next two, we will probably finish in the top 4 of the league and get a double bye and then who knows about the Big East tournament.  That tournament has been won by great individual efforts- the Hoyas alone have won that tournament lead by the immortal Ewing, Reggie Williams and most recently Jeff Green.  Can Freeman stake his name in Hoya lore by doing the same?  We will begin to find out this Saturday as Georgetown takes on the Orange at home.

If none of that transpires though and Georgetown loses in the 1st two rounds of the NCAA tournament, this will be yet another great class of players that left Georgetown without coming close to reaching their potential.  They have scored some great victories, but while great memories come from the Big East tournament, moments in eternity happen in the NCAA tournament and for this group of players, those moments have never even come tantalizingly close.

Of course all this happened while the Wiz made what I think was a good trade.  Sure Mike Bibby doesn’t want to be here, but screw him, he’s here so deal.  But in essence, since last summer, Grunfeld traded our 2nd round pick to Chicago and has now gotten 2 1st round picks out of it – one that was used on Seraphin this year and one from Atlanta is this year’s draft.  Grunfeld has botched a lot of things, but this series of trades was not one of them.  Now, time will tell if Seraphin proves to be anything other than a Euro-bust and Grunfeld’s eye for talent is still suspect at best, but if I were a Hawks fan, I would be pissed to have given up a good young talent in Crawford and a 1st round pick for a good defender in Hinrich with an inconsistent outside shot and bum of a player in Hilton Armstrong.

The Caps resume their season tomorrow night and the good news is that Backstrom’s broken finger is not going to prevent him from playing, hopefully.

It is tough being a D.C. sports fan…….

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1-sided

Ovie watches as his blast beats Fleury for the only goal of Washington's 1-0 victory over the Pens. We are now 10-0-2 in our last twelve games against Pittsburgh and have beaten them 7 times in a row in Pittsburgh.

Beating the Penguins never gets old.  Beating them 1-0 can make you feel old though.  The pressure and intensity of last night’s game was palpable from the living room.  Every game between us and them is like that now.  And now that we play our defensive-oriented, style of play which was even more bogged down offensively last night due to the continued absence of Mike Green combined with a Penguins team that is missing its top two stars, 1-0 with all the blood and guts that go along with it, is what we got last night.

In the standings, we now are a mere 3 points behind Pittsburgh and only 1 point behind Tampa although the latter does have 2 games in hand on us.  All the same, finishing the long road trip with 2 consecutive victories and 6 out of a possible 10 points is very important for us.

Last night the heroes were numerous.  Obviously Ovie and his cannon of a shot in the 2nd period stick out.   But our captain had it going from the very beginning.  If anything, he an Neuvy looked like the only two ready to play for our side when the puck dropped.   He was hitting guys, taking hits and frankly if he had converted on the breakaway he had about halfway into the 1st period, the whole game might have been different.

Neuvy has now played twice against the Pens and has shut them out.  We have scored a combined 4 goals to their none in the last two games and combined 9-4 if you count their ‘shootout goal’ in their only victory against us this year.   Pretty awesome.

Varly was very good against Buffalo, but he did not face the pressure Neuvy did last night.  Is it just me or has Neuvy been playing slightly better than Varly of late.  Last night Neuvy gave up no rebounds, I mean absolutely none.   Well maybe he gave up a few, but those all were deflected to the corner.

Our defense was stout last night.  We were well positioned and were fighting in front of our net constantly.  Both teams were pushing and shoving a lot and while they may have gotten more official hits than we did, we certainly did not get pushed around.

Johannsson had another solid game and I liked him playing on Ovie’s line.  His pass to Ovie on the PP was so calm and so perfectly timed that even the announcers gushed about it for a while.

By the way, the studio announcers on Versus are funny.  They’re not funny ‘ ha-ha’, but funny about how Mike Millbury so outwardly roots against the Caps.  He even had a hard time praising Ovie’s goal.  He said it came off of a lucky bounce off of the Fleury.  Then, he criticized the Caps’ turnovers in the neutral zone.  OK, we had some, but so did Pittsburgh.  Anyway, his dislike for non-American born players is well-documented as is his distaste for the Caps.  Hopefully one day we win it all and make him and many others eat a lot of crow.

Anyway, the Caps are now 25-3-3 when holding our opponents to 2 goals or less.  So, in 31 of 60 games games we have held the opposition to 2 goals or less.  We have won almost 81% of those games and we have gotten points in over 90% of those games.    We are 7-16-7 when the opponent scores more than 2 goals and have gotten points in less than 47% of those games.

Defense is still important folks.  Last night’s games was playoff hockey and we all have to get used to that kind of game if we hope to win the Cup one of these days.

 

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Sunny Sunday Afternoon

Ovie and Perreault celebrate the game-winner which was ultimately credited to Marcus Johannson in the Caps' 2-1 victory over Buffalo.

The Caps definitely played a simple game today.  There was nothing fancy about the way they scored or how they stopped Buffalo.  Most importantly, we won and now we are only 3 points behind Tampa in the standings.

In truth, the Caps deserved to win the game as we out-hustled, out-shot and out-skated the Sabres all day.  It doesn’t mean it was easy though and after the Sabres stopped us on all 4 of our PP opportunities in the 1st period, including a 5-on-3, I had a bad feeling about how the game was going to go.   But Ovie was again the difference maker.  On the game-winner, it was his drive and shot at the net which opened up the ice for Perreault to fling a shot towards the open net which deflected off the hard-charging Marcus Johannson.

It was the definition of a greasy goal.

Our PK once again failed us and I believe we now sit at 7th league-wide after we were 2nd for such a long time.  But honestly, these days, stats mean very little to me.  It’s just wins that matter and win we did today.

An even bigger game awaits us tomorrow night.

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A necessary step

Hollis Thompson lays in an acrobatic shot in the 2nd half of Georgetown's 61-55 victory over South Florida.

Georgetown won a game it had to win tonight.  It wasn’t exciting and it wasn’t particularly pretty, but Georgetown continues to win.  And Chris Wright continues to be the man on this team of late.  Tonight he scored from all parts of the court, three-pointers, drives to the rim, big free-throws at the end of the game.   Now don’t get me wrong, a lot of players made big plays including Hollis Thompson who hit some nice shots and had an absolute circus shot towards the end of the game. His biggest play of the game though came with less than a minute left after Wright had uncharacteristically turned it over.  Thompson blocked an attempted layup from South Florida that had it gone in would have cut the Hoya lead to 2 points with less than 30 seconds left.  Thompson continues to be an X-factor for this team.

Freeman continues to look off for some reason.  Maybe his ankle injury against Providence is still bothering him, but for the 3rd game in a row, his shot has been off.  That being said, he hit an extremely important leaning jumper late in the game to extend our lead to 8 points.

Jason Clark was a beast on the defensive end and had several steals including three on consecutive positions on the 2nd half which helped us extend our lead to close to 10 points halfway through the 2nd half.

We got eaten up on the boards all night which is discouraging, but overall this was a sleepy game for the Hoyas and I’m happy that we did not have a more serious scare.  Playing South Florida is ridiculous.  They should not be in the Big East, nor should the team from Texas that we will have to play next year.  But that’s life.  I still pine for the Big East where we had 8 teams and you played anyone twice.  But as with most things, I have to stop living in the past.

The Hoyas now have three tough games in a row with two coming against Cincinnati and a showdown in D.C. next Saturday against Syracuse.  In the Big East, one thing is for sure:  the end never seems near and the with the Big East tournament looming, the NCAA tournament, the start of the games that ultimately define everything, really seems like a lifetime away.

Double vision: The Caps lost to San Jose again a couple of nights ago and again looked good, but not great.  The fact though that we lost the game again in the 3rd period is concerning.  Our goaltending was not great on the west coast trip, nor was our defense.  Our PK has shown some cracks having allowed goals in 3 straight games and while our PP did register one goal from Ovie in the last game, no one would say that it seems to have turned a corner despite the positive steps it took against Phoenix.

There are not many teams that have been playing worse than the Caps in the last 10.  Those teams include Ottawa, Florida and the Rangers – all in all, a pretty yucky group of teams.  The Caps have 8 points in that span and while we are still in 5th space, nothing feels good about this team right now.

Tomorrow and Monday will be an opportunity for us to get back on track with big games against Buffalo and the Penguins.

Everyone is talking about the need for the Caps to get a 2nd line center, but in reality, the biggest problem this team may face is Green’s injury.  If he has anything like a concussion, we will be in trouble.  No fan and no one in the organization wants to see Tyler Sloan as a starting defenseman come playoff time.

The problems are many and the magical solutions don’t exist.  The team will have to dig deep.   Anyway who has been watching all year can see that Ovie is digging deep, but will everyone else?  As of today, we are 5 points behind Tampa having played the same number of games.

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Seminal performance

I write this blog during the 1st intermission of the Caps & Sharks game with the game knotted up at 1-1.  The Caps gave up a SH goal for the 2nd night in a row, but unlike last night, we were able to respond right away thanks to a wicked slap shot from Ovie. As an aside, Craig Laughlin sounds like either he’s sick or on downers because he doesn’t have even close to the same oomph that he usually does.

After recording his 4th hat-trick of the season Semin skates off the ice. His 3rd goal and the Caps' 7th of the night would prove to be the game-winner against Anaheim in D.C.'s 7-6 victory over the Ducks last night Febraury 16, 2011.

Last night the Caps won a memorable game 7-6 over Anaheim.  To be honest, I never thought we were going to win the game until we were up 7-6 with less than two minutes left after Semin scored on a sweet power move, driving hard to the net and capping off his 4th hat-trick of the season. He has 22 goals 12 of which have been scored in 4 games.  It’s as if he doesn’t have a shot at scoring 3, he’s disinterested.  Anyway, I don’t want to bad mouth the dude that saved our skin last night.

It was a really big win for us because otherwise, we were just going to be a team finding many different ways to lose and we don’t need another one of those in this town.  The goal-tending was stinky last night as was the defense, but somehow, someway we pulled it out.  One of the things the Caps did yesterday which they hadn’t done as much during the last three consecutive losses was to get in tight to the net.  In fact, not one of the 7 goals was scored from the perimeter.  Ovie’s goal to get things started was probably the goal that was shot the farthest from the  net.  It was an important win.

Tonight’s game started out kinda sleepy.   But both teams seem charged up.  If we can remain at least tied going into the 3rd period, I think we got a shot to pull this one out too.

Double vision: I had a feeling that the Hoyas would lose last night and that feeling proved right unfortunately.  The Hoyas’ offense was not crisp as both Freeman, Vaughn and Thompson had down games.  While our rebounding could have been better, it was our inability to cover Walker which lost the game for us.  This inability to really stick highly talented players like Walker reared its ugly head in our loss to St. Johns earlier in the year when we were unable to stop one player from winning the game one-on-one NBA style.  The same thing happened last night as Walker repeatedly called for clear outs and the Hoyas were unable to either stick him with one man or double team and rotate effectively.

This could be a problem for the Hoyas come tournament time, but then again there are not that many talented players in college basketball.  Tough loss, but to be expected.  If we beat South Florida this weekend, all should be well in our drive to finish in the top 4 of the Big East.

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A day after yet another loss by the Caps, we now find our self in 6th place in the East and 6 points behind Tampa Bay for the division lead.  Time is running out on the Caps.  We know it and they know it.  And they played against Phoenix like they knew.  For the most part, we played hard on both ends of the ice.  Ovie is playing like a true captain these days.   He is all over the ice on every shift.

The game was lost primarily on special teams.  I can’t really get mad at our PK since they have been so good of late.  Our PP looked much better and on a couple of occasions, it looked like we had bagged a goal, but it was not to be.  If I am going to nitpick, I will say that I like Chimera playing on the top line more than Knuble and that Perreault seems better with the 2nd line than the 3rd.  Of course, Johannson did score his fluky goal while on the 2nd line.  I think Semin was a liability against Phoenix and at this point, I would prefer Beagle returning to the 2nd line with Laich and Perreault.  I doubt that is going to happen, but with the season on the line,  after all the playoffs are not a guarantee for this team, we can’t have someone sleep-walking through games like Semin did for the most part on Monday night.

The problem is the Caps could play really well during the next 4 games and go 1-3 and we would be in even more trouble.

These are the moments that make great players great and make coaches earn their paychecks.  Something or someone has got to turn the tide before we find ourselves staring up at the 8th spot in the playoffs.  Let’s see if it is tonight.

Double vision: A few thoughts about the Redskins:

This whole issue with Brandon Banks is getting more serious by the day.  Apparently, he now has to have a tube inserted into his chest to prevent his left lung from collapsing.  Holy S%#@!    This is a serious injury and you can only hope at this point that he is ok.  And then of course the fan in me wants to know that the most exciting player on the Redskins is going to be ok for next season.

Haynsie has to go.  1st he allegedly attacks another motorist, now he gropes some waitress in a restaurant.  The dude has to go.  I have been critical of the dog killer Michael Vick and the sexual assaulter Ben Roethlisberger from Pittsburgh, and now I have to be critical of Haynsie.  While his crimes may be slightly less worse than the other two players, I don’t want him on my team.  I don’t want to cheer for some dude who at the least is a jerk of the highest proportion at the worst gropes women.

Before I have been on the side where the Redskins should try to get something for him in a trade and I guess in principle I still like that idea.   But I would rather have them release him for nothing at this point then keep him on the team next year.  The dude is douche.  Get him out of here.

Finally, now that the ‘Skins did not renegotiate with Moss, (although I still think we may re-sing him down the road), I wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘Skins put some of tag on Carlos Rogers.  They may even do it with McIntosh although I think that’s less likely.

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